Thanh Vu was plying his trade on small local shows in Australia until the call came from ONE FC last year. Since signing with Asia’s leading MMA promotion he has tasted victory on the biggest MMA show to ever take place in Malaysia and is set to fight in front of an even bigger crowd at the Singapore Indoor Stadium next month.
It’s been an incredible journey for the 21 year old, who is of Vietnamese descent, and it continues on April 5 when he takes on Kevin Belingon at ONE FC: Kings & Champions. The Filipino is a URCC champion and coming off an emphatic first round stoppage win over Yusup Saadulaev and Vu knows he will not be in for an easy night.
“I know he is tough, so I expect a good fight, but I’lll be coming in guns blazing and expect the same,” he said to Fighters.com.
The fight will be one of two semi finals of the ONE FC Bantamweight Grand Prix taking place in Singapore, with Masakatsu Ueda facing Jens Pulver in the other. Vu progressed to this stage of the competition courtesy of a first round stoppage win over Mohd Fouzien in Kuala Lumpur but it was a fight which was only arranged at the 11th hour after one opponent had pulled out with injury and two replacements had failed pre fight medicals.
It all made for a frantic few hours for ONE FC matchmaker Matt Hume but Vu said he did not let the constant changes in opponent affect him,
“I accepted three other opponents until they found my final opponent but it didn’t affect me at all, myself and the team at M.A.D always prepare a well rounded game. At one stage I was worried I wouldn’t get a fight but I had faith in Matt Hume and ONE FC and they assured me they would have a match up, so I just prepared all the same,” he explained. “I was just happy to fight and get the win, whether it was a known opponent or not didnt matter to me as I respect anyone who steps into the cage.”
Vu made his professional debut in 2011 and, up until recently, had been competing exclusively in small clubs or conference centers in Australia. His last fight was witnessed by 10,000 fans in Kuala Lumpur and there is expected to be almost 12,000 in the audience when he takes on Belingon, on a card which will be broadcast live to 28 countries in Asia by Star Sports.
It’s an amazing step up, from the fringes of the Australian scene to the spotlight of the biggest MMA promotion in Asia, and Vu admits to being amazed at how quickly his career has taken off, stating,
“I never expected any of this to happen, it has been a great learning and building experience so far and I look forward to getting more opportunities to show case what I can do to the world. I have never fought in these sort of conditions, in front of TV cameras and sold out stadiums. It was an unbelievable experience to be able to go in there and put on a show for the ONE FC fans.”
ONE FC is expanding all over Asia and Ho Chi Minh City is on the list. If Vu beats Belingon then he will book himself a place in the final of the ONE FC Bantamweight Grand Prix in a fight which could potentially take place in Vietnam. He’s not getting carried away about this possibility just yet but it is something which is very much on his mind.
“It’s a massive motivation to have that in the back of my mind but at the end of the day I take one fight at a time and right now Kevin is at the top of that list,” he admitted.
ONE FC: Kings & Champions is taking place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on April 5th and is headlined by a lightweight title bout between Shinya Aoki and Kotetsu Boku.